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Wedding season is fast approaching and that means busy weekends and long nights of fun for many people. If you're not careful, it can also mean breaking the bank to make it all happen – especially when you factor in travel options, clothing and gifts. Julie Connolly, CEO of Carte Blanche Events in Vancouver, B.C., shared helpful advice on how to not only survive but also enjoy wedding season as a guest on a budget.
For weddings in your area, consider leaving the car at home. According to Connolly, using public transportation is a smart decision. "It's more than appropriate," she says. "I think it's the best option because most weddings have an open bar and you don't want to be driving home anyway."
Use your city's public transportation website to plan ahead and find the best route so you aren't stuck trying to find a hotel room in the middle of the night, or worse, driving under the influence.
Out-of-town weddings are usually a great opportunity for guests to get away and have some fun, but the downside is that they come with more expenses. Connolly recommends car-pooling and sharing rooms to save on costs. Getting home might not be an issue with weddings that take place in a hotel, as you can simply book a room at that location. However, depending on the hotel, rooms can be pricey. Still, Connolly suggests thinking carefully before jumping to book the cheap motel down the street.
"It depends on how close you are with your group of friends and how much time you want to spend with everybody," she says. "Spending a few extra dollars will give you the opportunity to spend more time with your friends, but sometimes saving a few dollars is important for people and it's fine to stay at a different hotel."
The cost of getting dolled up to attend several weddings adds up quickly. It might be tempting to repurpose the classic little black dress for a couple of events, but Connolly doesn't recommend it.
"People post their pictures and everybody looks at wedding pictures," she warns. "So it's not a birthday party or a night out with the girls, where you can wear the same outfit six weeks later."
Connolly recommends looking for clothing deals early in order to save on wedding attire. You can usually find dresses and outfits at affordable prices if you are patient and take your time when shopping, she notes. If you're really strapped for cash, she suggests swapping clothes with a sister or friend as an option – as long as they're not going to the same wedding. Another simple way to save on added expenses is to do your own hair and makeup instead of getting it done professionally.
The cost of gifts can add up quickly during wedding season. Registry items are usually pricey and there's little-to-no wiggle room in terms of not getting a gift.
If you plan on bringing a plus-one to the wedding, you may want to consider your finances first. While it's not a hard-and-fast rule, if you have the means, a couple or family should spend a little more on a gift than a single person would, says Connolly. "Consider that the value of the gift you're giving should be equal to what it cost you to go out for a really nice evening," she says.
That said, you could also save money by not buying a gift off of the registry. "Many couples make a registry because they feel obligated to provide people with options that don't require a lot of thinking,' Connolly notes. "People are getting married later in their relationships and usually already have many of the essentials they need. Buying them a unique gift that's a little more affordable is a great idea."
Her suggestion for a fantastic gift that's both unique and affordable would be to purchase something one-of-a-kind and personalized from a website like etsy.com. Remember to leave ample time for the gift to be made and shipped.
Although it is a controversial move, some couples ask for cash gifts on their invitations. Connolly recommends doing your best to honour their wish by giving what you can afford.
"Some people might feel that they need to give a lot of money, but everything is appreciated when you're getting married," she says.